The Project, Summarized
The Fibromyalgia Flotation Project (FFP) has been created to document the efficacy of flotation REST as a treatment for people suffering from fibromyalgia. The International Flotation Research Group, an informal group of scientists and entrepreneurs interested in Flotation REST, organized this research endeavor. FFP is a voluntary, international effort. No remuneration or profit is received by any of the organizers.
The first study completed by the FFP was presented at the Float Summit 2012 in Gothenburg Sweden. The results of that study provided compelling evidence that flotation REST can greatly improve the lives of people with fibromyalgia by significantly decreasing their pain, muscle tension, anxiety and stress. It also significantly increased freedom of movement, energy, mood and quality of sleep. Most of these improvements showed longer-term relief as the participants floated repeatedly. This initial study had participants float once a week for three weeks but case studies suggested that extended use of flotation REST can reduce fibromyalgia symptoms to near zero. It was decided to explore the longer-term possibilities by creating a longer study.
For this study the Fibromyalgia Flotation Project is utilizing a novel approach to collecting clinical data by using this website to recruit participants and float centers, and to gather data for analysis.
Flotation REST is a form of Reduced Environmental Stimulation Therapy (REST) that uses a shallow pool of heavy water about the size of a large bed. The water is made heavy by super- saturating it with Epsom Salt (MgSO4) to the point that a person floats on his or her back effortlessly on the surface of the water like a cork.
The water is heated to skin temperature and the pool is enclosed in a lightproof, soundproof environment. This device, invented by Dr. John C Lilly, effectively removes external stimulation and creates a neutral environment that gives the feeling that one is floating comfortably in space.
In using this type of therapy one is given a private room with a shower where one can disrobe, shower, and step into the pool enclosure. After sitting in the water and lying back to float on the surface, one can then turn out the lights. The reduced stimulation encountered in the flotation pool refocuses the individual’s attention to internal stimuli.
Fibromyalgia is a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain, described as a constant dull ache, typically arising from muscles. It effects 2% of general population and women are much more likely to develop it than are men by a ratio of 9:1. It is a devastating and often unpredictable condition that causes dreadful pain and impacts life by interfering with the ability to do the simplest things.
While fibromyalgia is not well understood, current thinking is that it is the result of central augmentation of pain sensitivity, either triggered by a traumatic event or developing gradually. In addition, it has been suggested that sufferers of fibromyalgia have a magnesium deficiency caused by stress and lack of restful sleep that subsequently triggers nerves to respond to even minor stimuli (London, 2007).
The Fibromyalgia Flotation Project selected Fibromyalgia for study because the characteristics and symptoms of this disorder correspond closely with conditions that were reported to benefit in prior flotation REST studies.
If you have been diagnosed with fibromyalgia and are interested in participating in the Fibromyalgia Flotation Project you will need to follow the steps below. By choosing to participate you agree to provide information about yourself and your symptoms that will remain protected. You need not supply your name as you will be given a codename for the study. The only people who will have access to your data are the scientists who will pool your data with that of all the other participants for the purpose of analysis. You will be able to float once a week for 4 weeks at no charge. Float sessions after that will be provided to you at a deeply discounted rate. We hope you will continue to participate in the project as long as you like. You can discontinue at any time, however, we ask that you complete the Termination Form when you decide to stop you participation.
Step One: Find a Place to Float
Locate a float center near you by using FloatationLocations.com. Once you have found a center contact them to see if they are participating in FFP. If they are make an appointment to proceed with step two. If they are not participating ask them to look at this website to see if they would like to participate. If they agree, then make an appointment with them to proceed with step two.
Step Two: Register With the Center
You can register only at a participating float center because the research materials require two layers of security to access. Each participating float center has a security code and each participating subject has a security code. Both codes must be entered to access your questionnaires, except for the Medical awareness form and the Termination form which only require the participating subject’s code.
When you register you will be assigned a personal code and asked to complete the Intake Information form.
Step Three: Medical Form
You will need to contact a physician who is familiar with your condition and ask him or her to visit this site and complete the Medical Awareness form. You will need to give your doctor your security code to access this form.
Step Four: Book Your 1st Float
Make an appointment for you first flotation session. Prior to the session you will be given a complete orientation to the experience. If you have questions or concerns please bring them to the attention of the attendant. After the orientation and before the float you will complete the Pre-Float questionnaire online. This will require the two security codes mentioned above. Then you will shower and have your float session. When the session is over you will shower again, dress and complete the Post-Float questionnaire online.
Step Five: The Next 3 Sessions
Try to space your next three float session about a week apart so that your first four floats are completed in approximately one month. Prior to each session you will be required to complete a Pre-Float questionnaire and after each session a Post Float questionnaire.
Step Six: Ongoing Floats
We hope that every participant will complete at least 10 floats. From the fifth to tenth float, you will be charged a discounted rate for your sessions in exchange for completing the Pre and Post-Float questionnaires. You can float at whatever frequency you wish from this point on. After 10 floats, many centers will continue offering discounted floats.
Step Seven: Wrapping Up
Whenever you choose to cease your participation in the Project we ask that you complete the Termination form. You can access this form with your subject participation code alone.
Waiting List Control Group
If you have fibromyalgia and cannot find a convenient float center, perhaps you would like to participate in the project as part of a control group until a float center comes to your area. As part of this group you will be helping us to compare the effects of flotation with a non-treatment control. For you it would be a means of tracking your symptoms for the 10 weeks of the study. Participation in the control group would involve filling out an initial questionnaire about you and your symptoms, getting your doctor to confirm that you have fibromyalgia and then completing a short questionnaire once a week for 10 weeks. Your information and responses will be kept anonymous and confidential. They will pooled with the responses of others for purposes of statistic analysis.
If you are a commercial float center, offering flotation REST session to the public, you may be interested in being a part of the Fibromyalgia Flotation Project. To participate you will need to register on this site. Participation means that you will agree to the terms of the study.
It is necessary that your center adhere to the US Float Tank Standards of Safety and Sanitation, created by the US Float Tank Association.
Participants will float 10 times. The first 4 of these will be provided for free and the next 6 will be discounted 50%.
After 10 floats participants will have completed their obligation to the project. They can continue and we encourage centers to provide continued discounts, but they will not be obligated to do so.